Newcastle moved back to the top of the Championship tonight with a steady win against a very ordinary Wigan side with goals either side of half time from Diame and Atsu. The win also moves the Magpies 9 points clear of third placed Reading who’d lost their game 24 hours earlier.
STARTING XI: Darlow, Anita, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu, 69), Hayden, Gouffran, Shelvey, Diame, Gayle (Perez, 82)
Rafa would name an unchanged side for the first time this season in the hope for back to back wins moving into the Christmas period. And the away side would start very well against a Wigan side who looked both bereft of confidence and ideas from the off.
What was also noticeable from the off was how sparse and quiet the home crowd would be throughout the game, other than that damn annoying drum at least.
Key to this match would be the continued emergence of Mo Diame who would follow up his outstanding performance in his last match against Birmingham with another fine display.
Indeed it would be Diame who would turn Newcastle’s early dominance into a more tangible advantage when, on 26 minutes, our number 15 would pick the ball up just inside the Wigan half and use his power to surge almost to the edge of the home sides box. A neat 1-2-1 with Hayden would see our man then charge into the box, using his strength to hold off another Wigan defender before calmly slotting past Jaaskelainen in the Wigan goal.
With Newcastle now well on top they probably didn’t want the half time whistle to blow as it did only seem a matter of time before a second would come their way.
Into the second half at still 1-0 though and Wigan seemed a different team. Their players, and the less than 10,000 fans who’d bothered to turn up finally decided there was a match to be played. But for all their endeavour in the second period Wigan would fail to really test Darlow who would only have to make one save in the entire match.
Instead it was Newcastle United who would break on 78 minutes and score the second goal. A long kick from Darlow would see Wigan exposed on their right flank and with Newcastle having an overload on that side a neat flick on would see Gouffran free to run into the Wigan box unchallenged. His cross would evade everyone and in the area and be picked up by Atsu who’s unstoppable strike would seal it for the visiting side.
A comfortable 2-0 in the end then for Newcastle United who would finish the day back on top of the Championship table and send their 4,800 travelling fans home happy.